Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Enigmatic five-year-old Wildwest races at his best on the pegs, and from the No. 1 barrier he has bright prospects of leading and winning the 1730m Stephen Croy Memorial Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Punters would be well advised to overlook his 11TH placing behind Balcatherine in the 2130m City of Perth Cup last Friday night when he began from the outside barrier (No. 9) and raced at the rear throughout.
He met with a slight check about 550m after the start, was forced wide briefly and was never in contention, with the pacemaker Balcatherine speeding over the final 800m in 55.5sec.
Wildwest, to be driven by Callan Suvaljko, impressed the previous week when he sat behind the leader Hurricane Harley and was hopelessly blocked for a run when a most unlucky third to that pacer in the 2536m event. A week earlier Wildwest enjoyed the one-out, one-back trail before finishing strongly to win in fine style from Hampton Banner and Perfect Major.
Wildwest is prepared by Gary Hall snr, who has three other runners in the race — champion Chicago Bull, Diego and Alta Intrigue.
Gary Hall jnr will drive eight-year-old Chicago Bull, who has won 61 races and $2,330,983 in prizemoney. “Barrier eight over 1730m is not ideal,” said Hall.
“He looks super and is going well, and they are the most important things. He went 2min. 57sec. two track runs ago and then 2.58 at his next hoppled run.
“You would expect Wildwest to be able to lead, and he could run close enough to 1.53, or sub 1.53 which would make him pretty hard to beat. I won’t be disappointed if Bully runs midfield; I’m rapt that he is back fit and healthy.”
Wildwest gave an early indication of his frontrunning ability when, at his third start in a race and at his Gloucester Park debut he rated 1.57.5 over 2130m and dashed over the final 400m in 26.8sec. in winning easily from Beaudiene Western.
He started from the No. 1 barrier in the 2130m Governor’s Cup last February when he easily won the start, fought off a spirited early challenge for the lead, ran the lead time in a scorching 34.5sec. and won from the fast-finishing Miracle Moose, rating 1.54.9.
Chicago Bull, winner of the 2017 WA Pacing Cup and a dual Fremantle Cup winner, has overcome a couple of minor setbacks and will be making his first appearance since he raced in the breeze before fading to eighth behind Shockwave in the 2536m Winter Cup on June 21.
Also resuming after an injury-enforced two-year absence is seven-year-old Rocknroll Lincoln, who was driven by Hall in two trial wins last month for Boyanup trainer Justin Prentice.
“His trials have been really good, and he should come back in really good shape,” said Hall. “And I know that whatever he’s done in the trials he will improve on. He went very well in the first trial (at Pinjarra) and felt even better in the next one (at Bunbury). If he gets a crack at them, he will be dangerous.”
Hall has driven Rocknroll Lincoln 15 times for seven wins, including the Bunbury Cup in December 2018, the WA Pacing Cup in January 2019 and the Governor’s Cup in February 2019. He has made a good recovery from a damaged suspensory ligament and will be having his first start since he was badly checked and finished last behind Vampiro in the Village Kid Sprint at Gloucester Park on December 27, 2019.
Rocknroll Lincoln is the only runner off the back line in Friday night’s event and he will be driven for the first time by Aiden de Campo.
Leading trainers Greg and Skye Bond will be represented by richly-talented New Zealand-bred four-year-olds Minstrel and Patronus Star, each of whom has an excellent winning chance.
Minstrel, to be driven by Ryan Warwick from barrier six, has won at 13 of his 25 starts and he was extremely impressive at his first appearance for three months when he raced wide early and then in the breeze before finishing with great determination to be second to the pacemaker Hurricane Harley over 2536m last Friday week. If he replicates that performance, he will take a lot of beating.
Dylan Egerton-Green will drive Patronus Star, a winner at 13 of his 30 starts who is favourably drawn at barrier two. He caught the eye with a superb first-up performance when fourth behind Hurricane Harley last Friday week. He was 11TH at the bell and flew home with a dazzling seven-wide burst.
“It was a really good run, and he should run a nice race,” said Egerton-Green.
The brilliant Ray Williams-trained four-year-old Magnificent Storm cannot be underestimated and is still a winning prospect, even from the outside barrier (No. 9).
He reappeared after a brief spell when he raced in the breeze at various stages and fought on gamely to be third behind Balcatherine and Motu Premier over 2130m last Friday night. His previous 19 starts resulted in 18 wins and a second placing.
Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri is looking for a strong performance from five-year-old Perfect Major, who will be driven by Chris Lewis from barrier five. “He has won six Free-For-Alls, two of them in group 2 events,” said Olivieri. “He is a silly chance.”